Do Foxes Wag Their Tails?

Foxes are fascinating creatures that have fascinated humans for centuries. Their treacherous nature and beautifully colored fur have long made them fascinated and admired. Yet, as much as we know about foxes, some questions still need to be answered. One such question is whether foxes wag their tails. Although they are known for their fluffy tails, it is not always clear whether foxes can express their emotions through tail movement. So let’s find out if foxes really wag their tails and what it might mean if they do.

Introduction to Foxes and Their Traits

Foxes are fascinating creatures belonging to the animal kingdom with a wide presence worldwide. These unique mammals belong to the canine family, are closely related to dogs and wolves, and exhibit interesting traits that make them captivating to observe. One of the most common questions about foxes is whether they wag their tails and bark like their canine relatives. As a matter of fact, foxes wag their tails and produce a variety of vocalizations, including barking.

Tail wagging is observed primarily among wild fox cubs when they are excited, particularly around feeding time. This behavior mimics that of wild dogs, who also wag their tails with enthusiasm when hungry. Foxes also have the ability to become friends with dogs when domesticated, which could lead to more instances of tail-wagging around their favorite humans.

In addition to barking, these captivating creatures exhibit an extensive repertoire of sounds, such as whines, squeals, and guttural noises, adding to the mystique of their complex communication system. They also display a unique social structure where they live in groups of varying sizes and maintain close-knit relationships. Overall, foxes are remarkable animals with intriguing characteristics that continue to captivate animal enthusiasts and curious onlookers alike.

Reasons for Tail-Wagging in Foxes


Foxtails serve multiple purposes and play an important role in communication, helping with balance and providing insulation.

Communication and signaling:

Foxes use their tails to express their feelings and wag them rapidly back and forth while keeping their bodies low to the ground when they are happy and excited. Their tails express happiness, excitement, and submission to dominant members of their group. Foxtails are also used to signal distress or show submission.

In communicating with others, foxes use their tails to signal danger by raising them high and attracting attention when they find food. When a fox wants to show dominance over another fox, it will hold its tail up and forward while walking high. Conversely, when a fox wants to show submission to another fox, it will tuck its tail between its legs while keeping low to the ground. In general, the movement and position of a fox’s tail convey a lot of information about its mood and intentions.

When fox cubs are happy and excited, they tend to wag their tails to get their mother’s attention for food. Domesticated foxes similarly wag their tails for attention from their humans. Through a breeding program by a Russian scientist, it was shown that later generations of domesticated foxes were more enthusiastic tail-waggers. So, like dogs, foxes can use their tails to show their emotions.


When jumping from a high place to a lower one or when walking on something thin or slippery, foxes use their tails to maintain balance.


In general, fox tails are a versatile and important part of a fox’s daily life. They also use their tails to regulate their body temperature by curling up with some of it tucked under them for insulation during cold weather.

Comparison with Dogs and Wolves

Foxes, dogs, and wolves belong to the same family, contributing to their similar behaviors, such as tail wagging and barking. Although each species has its own unique characteristics, there are certain traits that they share. For example, just like dogs, foxes are known to wag their tails when they are excited or happy, especially when young foxes approach their parents for food. Conversely, wolves mostly wag their tails to show submission or congratulatory behavior within the pack hierarchy.

Both foxes and wolves also possess various vocalizations, including barking. Although their barks may sound different from each other and from dogs, they serve similar purposes, such as communicating with pack members or warding off rivals. Wolves live in organized packs led by a dominant breeding pair and maintain a hierarchy that avoids conflict. Similarly, foxes live in groups consisting of males and females and care for their offspring collectively.

By understanding these shared behaviors and characteristics, we can better appreciate the fascinating relationships between these three closely related species, which have adapted to different living situations and environments over the years.

Noise Production and Communication

Foxes, being closely related to dogs and wolves, are known for their ability to produce various noises and communicate through these noises. One of the fascinating noises that foxes can make is barking, which serves to communicate with friends or rivals. Although similar to a dog’s, this bark is usually more high-pitched and somewhat shrill. Fox cubs also bark to call and stay in touch with their mother for safety.

Barking is not the only noise produced by foxes; they can also make a range of whines and squeals, each having different meanings depending on the context they are used and accompanied by specific body language. A squeal, for instance, can demonstrate submission or excitement. Foxes can also create deep, guttural sounds, known as ‘clicketing,’ primarily used during mating season.

Besides noise production, foxes rely on scent marking for communication. They possess various scent glands, including anal sacs and the intriguing supra caudal or violet gland, which play an essential role in marking territories or interactions with other foxes. The use of these scents, along with their noise production, creates a complex communication system in the world of foxes.

Unique Social Structure of Foxes

Foxes display a fascinating and unique social structure that sets them apart from other members of the Canid family. Foxes can be solitary creatures but tend to live in groups, averaging three to four adults but up to 10 members, usually equally split between males and females. Their social hierarchy is more like wolves than dogs, although it is more flexible.

These social groups are usually nuclear families consisting of a breeding pair and their offspring. Foxes play an essential role in social structure as they develop a pecking order that often affects their access to food and other essential resources. The hierarchy between pups begins to develop as early as one week of age and continues to change throughout their lives. This social structure can influence juvenile growth, social contact, and dispersal likelihood.

It is important to note that competition for food and position in the hierarchy can sometimes be fierce, but cooperation and harmony usually prevail in the group. Overall, foxes’ unique social structure helps them thrive and survive in the wild while maintaining strong bonds with their family members.


In conclusion, tail-wagging in foxes serves various purposes, primarily communication,  providing insulation, and emotional expression. Understanding these reasons helps us better appreciate these fascinating creatures and their interactions with their environment and humans. Although it is not as common for foxes to wag their tails as it is for dogs, it is still a fascinating aspect of their behavior.

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